Author Archives: Californian Mum in London

About Californian Mum in London

Hey! I'm a California gal who moved to London in 2002 to be with my British bloke. Come read about my adventures living in London, being a Stay-At-Home-Mum, coping with a tea and cake addiction and trying to assimilate into British life. Don't know where I belong, but can't imagine living anywhere else.

I had always said that Moozles could get her ears pierced when she turned 11. It is quite an arbitrary number, but it seemed to be a popular ear-piercing age for many British children. In the past year, Moozles has been asking to get her ears pierced. And personally, I think that kids can get their ears pierced as soon as they are able to take care of them themselves. So I told her that she could get her ears pierced this summer.

I expected Moozles to get scared and change her mind, but she had her mind set on getting earrings. So on Friday, after their last swimming class of the summer, I took the kids to Claire's in Kingston-upon-Thames. Moozles picked out which earrings she wanted, and she squeezed the life out of my hand. And in under 30 seconds, she had pierced ears. Moozles is now cleaning and turning her earrings three times a day. And they should be healed in three weeks, just in time for school. It feels like quite a milestone, for her and for me. My little girl is growing up.

...continue reading

Dining in London is equally difficult and easy. On one hand, you have a huge array of restaurants to choose from. On the other hand, there are a huge array of restaurants to choose from. The choice can be overwhelming. There are a few websites and apps out there that help find restaurants in London, but I've recently come across a new app with a twist. I recently booked a meal, and paid with it using Cake.

Let me be clear. I didn't bake a cake and use it to pay for my meal. Obviously that would be amazing. What I did was to download the Cake app onto my smartphone and use it when I was meeting up with a girlfriend a few weeks ago. Now booking a restaurant isn't tough, but Cake offers more than that.

...continue reading

We don't go to many shows as a family. I either go with my 9-year old daughter or my husband. My son is quite fidgety and cannot sit for more than an hour. I can't tell you how many shows we've endured with me silently screaming at him to stop kicking the seat in front. So when we were invited to view The Wind in the Willows at Kew Gardens, I was excited to see a show with no proper seats.

Once you arrive at Kew Gardens (Victoria Gate), there is a 10-minute walk to the beginning of the show. We spread out our picnic blanket, and waited for the first part of the show. Husband is not a fan of sitting on the ground, so he sat at the back on a camping chair we had brought. I let the kids eat half of their sandwiches, because it is obviously very tough not to start eating lunch at 10.30am.

...continue reading

Nothing kicks off a splendiferous summer like a trip to the Roald Dahl museum followed by afternoon tea with Mr Kipling. I was pretty excited to visit the museum, but then to get to eat my body weight in cakes?! It was like a dream come true. First, I must clarify that I was not being forced to eat lots of cakes. I just love Mr Kipling (especially the Viennese Whirls and Bakewell Tarts).

The Roald Dahl Museum is both educational and fun. I really enjoyed learning about Roald Dahl (Moozles had read a biography about him so was an expert, she informed me). But she loved learning how tall the various characters were, and that she was the same height as Danny. We really enjoyed seeing Roald Dahl's armchair and the place he created all of his stories. The museum has loads of interactive bits, which made it interesting for my nine year old and my five year old. There was also story-telling, dressing up and crafts. Dubz and Moozles loved the paper flowers we made.

...continue reading


If you're on Instagram, you've probably seen hundreds of posts from lavender farms all across the country. June, July and early August are the best times to visit. Take some family photos or capture your outfits in a beautiful environment. And if you live in south London, Mayfield is the nearest lavender farm.

We first visited Mayfield Lavender Farm four years ago, after Moozles finished her first year of school. I was looking back at the photos from this first visit because we had our third visit today. And how my little ones have changed. They really aren't so little anymore. My two were running around, trying to stay away from bees. At one point, they were both adamant they had been stung by the bees. They hadn't. But it can be quite daunting for children to see so many bees in one place. There are loads of bees, but they mostly keep to the lavender.

...continue reading

And that's a wrap on another year of school. Moozles has finished Year Four, and Dubz has finished Reception. I can't believe my little baby has finished his first year of school. He has changed so much this year. But then, there is so much change that happens in these early years. Besides all the learning, there is so much confidence that comes from attending school. Dubz has been meeting new people, trying new things, eating new food. It has been a wonderful year for him. We can't wait for Year One!

...continue reading

One of the things I miss most about living in the UK is that I miss the wonderful 4th of July celebrations in the USA. You get a day off to spend with your friends and/or family, eat BBQ and other delicious food and then finish the day with fireworks. I have only been to one expat BBQ in 15 years, and it is really tough to celebrate the day when it isn't often on a weekend. But this year, Jackson + Rye invited me and some friends to celebrate the 4th of July.

I grabbed my two favourite American expat friends (strangely, I know quite a few expats in my neighbourhood), and off to lunch we went. We would have loved to have our 4th of July meal on the actual fourth of July, but it was Sports Day, so we had our celebration on the fifth of July. Besides the joy of a mid-week meal, it was lovely going out for cocktails and great food with wonderful girlfriends.

...continue reading

We have never taken my son on an airplane (although his big sister has flown all around the world), as he has always been a handful. In May, we went for our first overseas holiday as a family of four. We had decided to go to France, and take Brittany Ferries as it would mean we could take our car plus we could better control our five year old son. I thought that sailing to France from the UK would be the easy travel option, but it turned out to also be the fun option.

I have to say that the kids and I weren't sure what to expect on the ferry. Luckily, the Brittany Ferries website has plenty of information and even videos of the ships. Dubz made me watch the videos about 20 times. His mind was blown to be travelling on a ship so big it could fit cars and beds and restaurants. But the ferry fits all those things and more.

...continue reading

A few weeks ago, I was invited to view the new Olive and Orange collection for Halfords. Orla Kiely has added her love of 1960s prints onto bicycles and on camping and picnic gear. And the latest collection has three new prints. And as Halfords held the event at Claridge's, we were able to enjoy afternoon tea while drooling over the bike of dreams and the loveliest camping gear I've ever seen.

I am a big fan of mid-century designs. I love the prints and aesthetics. Orla Kiely is known for her wonderful designs and the thought of making outdoor items (like bikes and tents) stylish is music to my ears. But it's not just a pretty design, these items have been designed with quality in mind. I had a little nosy online, and there's a beautiful gazebo as well. Now, I just need to convince my husband that I need the entire range. Wish me luck!

...continue reading

Riverside Dining at Jackson & Rye in Kingston

Oh, I do like to be beside the riverside. And if I can be sitting by the river, enjoying some delicious food, then even better. My new favourite riverside restaurant in Kingston-upon-Thames is Jackson & Rye. And I don't just like the location. The food is pretty damn tasty too.

As an American expat, I am always keen to try a restaurant that claims to serve American fare. But normally I'm left with overpriced burgers or non-fluffy pancakes. You can't imagine how a disappointing pancake can ruin my day. That is obviously a personality flaw. But rather than seek counselling, I've decided to just focus on finding better restaurants. Jackson & Rye definitely fits the bill.

...continue reading